Ah HA! The Job of the Artist

I started reading “No Time to Spare” by Ursula K. LeGuin and what a read it is. A blurb on the back by New York Times Book Reviewer Melissa Febos promised “The pages sparkle with lines that make a reader glance up, searching for an available ear with which to share them.”

And so dear reader, since the cats sprawled nearby look confused by my fist pump just now, this share is for you! (emphasis mine) Ursula writes about that question writers are asked: what does it mean? She encourages readers to seek out reviews and other analysts of writings if they can’t decide for themselves.

It’s a job I do as a reviewer, and I enjoy it. But my job as a fiction writer is to write fiction, not to review it. Art isn’t explanation. Art is what an artist does, not what an artist explains. (Or so it seems to me, which is why I have a problem with the kind of modern museum art that involves reading what the artist says about a work in order to find out why one should look at it or “how to experience” it.)

I’m on page 42 of this slender volume and this just stopped me in my tracks.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Meanwhile, today was a gray rainy day, not for painting, but I managed to buy some new socks. I also managed to go into an art supply store and leave without anything. I got an EZ-pass thing for my car after finding out from a co-worker that you can buy them at drug stores and grocery stores. Well, you buy it but they put all the money as a credit on the pass so it’s all good. Did some wash, did some reading, watched a favorite movie.

Yesterday I tried again on the scene I’d painted two days ago. Trying to figure out if it’s the change of paper (at least in part), paints getting rehydrated (they are now), me being rusty (yes and yes) but anyway here’s what happened. No explanations LOL per Ursula. Done from photos I’d taken of each scene.

Ah HA! The Job of the Artist

My Day with Art

I went to The Clark today, having asked for a day off so I could go to the lecture opening the new exhibit there – Drawn from Greatness. There were drawings from the 15th century and up to current times (Pollack, Picasso, Kelly etc). Big selection of the impressionists – two pages of Van Gogh letters (with drawings) and a drawing. Sketchbooks which had belonged to Cezanne and Degas. Lots of ink and wash, watercolor, gouache, chalk, graphite, different papers, techniques. Part of the exhibit was in a different part of the building, So I wandered over.

First couple very interesting. The one behind me, lovely. Next one… hmmm quite interesting. Strangely familiar, a little cartoonish but very skilled and unique style… freaking William Blake. Around the corner from that was a, as the curator noted, “showstopper” by Victor Hugo. Yes THAT Victor Hugo.

I saved getting the catalogue for another visit and perusal. It’s about big enough to be made into a coffee table but it does look very complete. I did come home with this, thinking it would be a good read and good company for my copy of The Hours of Catherine of Cleves

Remember that this time of year The Clark is closed on Mondays! If you end up there by mistake you can wander over to the Williams College Museum of Art and see other interesting things. (Ask me how I know that!)

Random Quote du Jour From the Quote Box

Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressive – that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims. — Tennessee Williams

Helpful Life Hints: How To Respond To Art You Don’t Like

I think anyone who has ever made anything has had someone, sometime, make some flip, off-handedly bashing comment about it. Not always to the maker directly, not even considering that they or someone they know might be nearby to hear it. It just spurts forth into the ether.

You might recall the summer’s incident where a viewer couldn’t just walk past a piece of art she didn’t like but complained and set off a chain of events where the exhibited quilt got pulled and then another one by the same maker got pulled etc etc. Outrage on one side and stupidity on the other ensued. Oops did I say that out loud? Sure did.

Anyway, here’s a helpful list of things you might need if you find yourself reacting in more negative ways to some piece of art. This reminds me of a book I have read Pictures & Tears by James Elkins. Most of my readers don’t need this reminder but maybe we need the information to hand out as needed.

You are not meant to like everything you experience. Art is often intended to be challenging, shocking, eye opening or outright uncomfortable.

For the Quote Box

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud. — Emile Zola

From the Quote Box

My paints are currently ready to board a big plane. (That’s what she said, **rim shot**)

In this life, so much of what we cannot control is caustic. The intrusive things we see, hear and smell make their way into our lives on a regular basis. If a painting can take you away from the crap out there, and help you scrape the day away, that’s appeal. — Gail Griffiths

From the Quote Box

My paints are currently ready to board a big plane. (That’s what she said, **rim shot**)

In this life, so much of what we cannot control is caustic. The intrusive things we see, hear and smell make their way into our lives on a regular basis. If a painting can take you away from the crap out there, and help you scrape the day away, that’s appeal. — Gail Griffiths